December 21: Sam’s departure from the NICU and first 24 hours at home

December 21, 2010

Wow.  I am still in shock that we are home.  After 95 days of the NICU routine, this abrupt change just feels so... abrupt!  I am not complaining... trust me.  I am just adjusting.  The past 24 hours have been a total whirlwind.

We started yesterday off by having one last family breakfast for a while, so we met my parents at Rick and Ann's.  The plan was to eat, and then Peter and I would go to the hospital to spring the boy while my parents took Irene to our house and waited for us.  Irene was a bit on edge from the get go- I think the anticipation and the unknown was more than her 5 year old brain could process.  She alternated between being sweet and excited (even telling us to thank all the doctors and nurses for letting Sam go home) and downright crabby.  When we left her with my parents, I had no idea which kid we were going to find when we got back!

Peter and I arrived at the hospital feeling like the conquering warriors returning from battle.  We were all smiles from ear to ear and just about everyone we passed knew that Sam was going home, so they were cheering us on.  It was such a different feeling being there.  I didn't feel like, well, here is another day to mark off on the calendar.  Things just felt different, and they were.  Each person we saw congratulated us and told us how excited they were for us and how much they would be missing Sam.

All in all, the departure process took us 3 hours.  Between socializing, waiting for the pharmacy, and trying to time things so Theresa could be there (it was her day off and she had some personal things to attend to) it just took a while to leave.  It was funny, I was also not in a huge hurry for some reason.  I think the idea of walking out the door and not having Laura by my side anymore was causing me to drag my feet.  I also had made a "home" out of the NICU and just as abruptly as I arrived there, I was leaving.  There are just so many good people there that I have come to think of as friends, I just didn't want to leave them.

The "check-out" from the NICU was pretty easy.  We had a quick review of all of the medicine Sam was going home on, how to give it to him and when.  Then we had to sign a few pieces of paper, have the bracelets we had been wearing for the past 95 day cut off and we were done.  Of course, there was the graduation walk out from the back of the NICU to the front, stopping and saying goodbye to everyone we passed.  I was amazed that I held it together as well as I did.  It wasn't until the gaggle of people surrounded us near the door that I started to loose it.  Luckily Laura was there to crack a joke and I was able to pull myself back together.  From there, it was just Peter, Sam, me and Laura walking out the door.  Since Sam had the cute mortarboard on, Laura and I were humming he graduation march as we stepped outside for the first time.  Laura then strapped Sam in, and the tears began to flow as I hugged her and said goodbye.

From there, we headed home where Irene and my parents were waiting for the grand welcome.  The next couple of hours are a total blur of breastfeeding, pumping, unpacking and marveling that Sam was home.  His first night was pretty good.  He ate well and slept well- as long as he was in someones arms.  Translation: very little sleep for Peter and Melissa!

His first day at home included an adventure to the doctor's office for a quick check (all good) and weigh-in (5 lbs 7 ounces on the doctor's office scale).  Then we had to stop in Montclair briefly to grab some food, then home.  Peter, of course, is now in the worst of the disease that has been tearing through the house, so he left at 1 pm to go to the doctor and then to my parents house for a nap.  That means, on Sam's first day at home... I was alone with Sam and Irene!  Timing is everything!

Irene is adjusting... but not gracefully.  She loves Sam, but she is already starting to resent him a little.  She wants attention - more than usual.  She also wants her hands on Sam at all times.  Sometimes she does this gently, sometimes not so much.  I think the next two weeks with Irene home are going to be interesting.  Play dates and activities are the only thing that is going to save us - that and the surprise visit from my brother that will happen on Christmas day.

Now, I spent a lot of time the other day thanking the amazing staff at the NICU... now I need to thank everyone who has been loyally reading my daily updates.  I have been overwhelmed by the support I have gotten from everyone.  Kathi for organizing MealBaby food deliveries (she is going to send out an update on this, so if you are interested in participating send Kathi an email at:  Linda and Steve Goldfarb for their daily words of encouragement and support.  Elisa, meeting you in the NICU was a life saver.  Having another mom that I could talk to about everything- especially one with a 5 year old spirited daughter was the life line I needed.  We have not known each other long, but I could not imagine surviving this without you.  Stephanie and Mike for being there with us when Sam was born and for being there every day since.  Sam could not have better god parents than the two of you.  Desiree and Ian, Christain and Robert, Steponme, Joan, Susan, Lisa H., Gwen, Judy, Julie S., Julie K., Tracy, Paige, Lisa B., Kelly, Michelle M., Miranda, Melissa, Olivia, Michael, Karla, Finny, Marina, Catherine, Marlene, Paola, Cristobol, Rodrigo, todo mi familia en Chile, The Bileca family, John and Gayle, Barry and Jane, Steve J., John and Nancy, Jeanne and Drake, Rosa, Lupita, Jil, Altacatl, Martha, Junko, Nicole, Jennifer L., Shawna, Ken Gibbs, Jim H., Donna and Ralph, Emilie and Tom, Claudia and Axel, Auben, Jennifer and Gabe W., Carol and Howie, Hannah, Rosie, Leslie, Amy and Peter, Shauna, all the Ungars, all the Salingers, Papa and Miriam... AND EVERYONE... A huge thank you for everything.  If I left you off by name I apologize.  The reality is, so many people had been there for me in so many different ways, there is no way I could thank everyone individually without spending the next 95 days calling people out one by one...

I will still be posting updates on Sam.  This blog has become such a part of my routine, I don't see myself stopping, so I hope you will continue to read... either way, I will continue to write.

Have been thinking about all of you so much Melissa. Loved reading the description and seeing the photos of the getaway. Hope your Christmas was lovely and Irene is adjusting more smoothly. It was a joy to care for you and your family. Blessings on the next phase of your adventure in parenthood.
So glad you have the URL! I miss you a bunch already! I hope we can find a time for you to visit Sam. He is doing really well at home- growing, eating, sleeping, pooping, etc. It is such a joy to be free- but I do miss my NICU family!
Margaret Schultz
Yay!!! We are so happy for you and just so you know (which you probably do), the resentment thing…you’ll be dealing with that for years! Max LOVES his little brother Aiden but sometimes…not so much. Two days after coming home he told us that we could send him back. All good. And, we are just a few blocks away and Aiden would LOVE playdates with Irene. Just say the word…
Linda & Steve Goldfarb
Okay, I must apologize, but in my excitement, my comment raced ahead of my brain and way ahead of my typing skills I meant to say: Steve and I couldn’t be …. that’s where my train of thought derailed… more excited to hear the news of your first day at home. THEN, the next sentence should have said, “Your parents have promised that we would one day meet little Irene at Northstar.” Needless to say, we are “delirious” with happiness for your family. Enough said! Again, all our best, Linda & Steve
Linda & Steve Goldfarb
Oh my my my. Where to begin? Thank YOU for the honor of even mentioning us in your amazing blog. This is the day we have all been waiting for (like how I say “WE?!”). But here it is and Steve and I couldn’t be have been promised to meet at Northstar by your parents!. How’s that for grammar?! Nina (mom of premature but now healthy 18-month old triplets), if you are reading this in Germany, I’m sure you are shouting a huge WOOO HOOO from Europe. If you were here, we’d be drinking a toast to the Harris-Odums and to little Sam and to Irene for her patience and tolerance which we are sure will continue!
Melissa, you are a true warrior. Enjoy little Sam. Irene will come around – it’s what she is supposed to do – torture her little brother! All our best,
Linda & Steve

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